Competition is harsh in today’s fast-paced consumer culture, so in order to rise above your competitors, you need to make sure every aspect of your business is top-notch. Aside from producing good quality products or offering grade-A service, you want to focus on improving your customer experience. Having excellent customer service skills is a must to lead a profitable business, but you might ask yourself – what are good customer service skills and how to acquire them?
Today we’ll discuss some of the crucial skills needed to assure your customers have a great experience while dealing business with your company. But first, let’s talk about why you want to spend your time on improving the customer service aspect of your company.
Why Is Customer Service Important
The first and foremost reason why you want to allocate some funds to your customer service department is the potential profit. Customer retention is cheaper than customer acquisition. On top of that, repeat customers are more likely to spend more money because of brand loyalty.
Secondly, the quality of your customer service will have the most significant impact on the image of your brand. Advertising, having an online presence, and other forms of external marketing are just as important, but your customer service department is the face of your company and the real human connection between your brand and your customers.
And lastly, happy customers will more than likely recommend you to their friends and family. Word of mouth is still the most effective marketing tool, even in the digital age we live in.
So what is good customer service and what skills should you look for when hiring customer service representatives?
Empathy Is Key
Without a doubt, empathy ranks among the top skills for customer service reps to have. The customer always wants to feel like there’s a level of understanding between him and the person he’s talking to. As long as your customer representative is on the same page as the person calling, any issue can be resolved. It is widely believed that empathy is an innate human trait, but in reality, it’s a skill like any other, and as such, can be acquired with the right training.
Empathy means having the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding the customer’s perspective. A compassionate customer representative can quickly de-escalate a tense situation and transform a frustrated customer into a loyal one.
No Weak Links
You want your entire team of representatives to be on board and capable of delivering flawless customer service. This means not only hiring the right people with the necessary set of customer service skills and character traits but also investing in their training and putting procedures into place. Make sure every one of your staff members has all the information they need at their disposal. Some customers will have a lot of questions, and if your staff member doesn’t have the required info, it’s not exactly his fault is it?
Educating your staff will ensure they always have the right answer to a customer’s questions, making your business feel more consistent and professional. Besides, your representatives are the face of your company, and it’s only natural to invest in them.
Make Sure You’re Available When Needed
Most people prefer to speak to a real person instead of an answering machine, that’s a given. No one wants to spend twenty minutes listening to voicemail when they have an issue that needs to be resolved. Being there for your customers when they need you the most is what good customer service is all about. As a small business owner, you might not have the resources to have an in-house customer rep available 24/7.
Luckily, there are high-quality workarounds that you can use to your advantage. Hiring a 24-hour answering service with expertly trained live agents will cost less than managing multiple shifts. Even if you’re not available 24/7, try and limit the downtown to a minimum.
Keep it Positive
Your customer representatives should always apply positive language in order to assure maximum customer satisfaction. As mentioned before, if the customer is reaching out because of an issue, defusing the situation, before addressing the problem will likely yield better results. Positive words build trust and brand loyalty. Rephrasing sentences to be proactive will make the customer feel more comfortable and receptive. Maintaining a calm demeanor during stressful interactions is also something to keep in mind. Having thick skin and taking responsibility can work wonders.
Similar to empathy, keeping your calm in stressful situations is something that can be practiced. Also, asking positive questions will make it easier to meet the needs and expectations of the customer. Remember, words are a powerful tool; it’s just a matter of knowing how to use them.
Keep Your Word
Everything we mentioned before means nothing if there’s no follow-through. Using positive language, being empathetic, and giving false promises is a sure way to get a lot of negative feedback. Keeping your word and seeing to it that the problem is resolved in a timely manner is key to assuring maximum customer satisfaction. At the same time, time efficiency is something to keep in mind and not spend too much time handling a request while other customers are waiting. Balance is key.
If you follow these simple tips on how to improve customer service, then you’ll put yourself heads-and-shoulders above your competition, without a doubt.
For more tips on how to run a successful business, and elevate your customer service department, make sure to keep up with our blog or check out our service pages.